By Bida Elly David
The leadership of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) has raised alarm over the arrest of some of its members during a peaceful rally over the weekend terming it to be an act against political and civic space.
The worrisome apprehension of the IO members came on Saturday following the launching of SPLM/A-IO State Secretariat and registration of new members for the party in Central Equatoria State, Juba.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) has of recent started its party mobilizations across the country and the latest of such was last week when it announced launch of their party Secretariat in Central Equatoria State, Juba accompanied by immediate registration of new members.
Speaking during the event, Angelina Teny, a senior member of the political party and the Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs condemned the alleged arrest of their members who were for the party’s peaceful rally in the streets of Juba.
She said that every political party has got full mandate to exercise their political rights through peaceful rally by the members without any blockage.
She pointed out that the act of apprehending members of the political party was a clear indication of dictating the party against civic and political expression entrusted in the constitution.
“Some of our officials were arrested this morning (Saturday). Why were they arrested while putting on their party shirts? They were on their peaceful rally on the street. SPLM earlier conducted their rallies with their members as others proceed while on boda-boda without any interruption or arrest” she said.
“Nobody has the right to arrest anyone who involve in a peaceful rally or celebrating. A person can only be arrested after committing crimes that cause public disorder” she argued.
Angelina however said the arrest will never stop them because they are fighting for their political space.
“I am very proud that, this is us claiming our political and civic spaces. Nobody will table for you a political space on the table just as meals are done. These are some of our rights and our apprehended members shall be released because they have done nothing wrong against anybody,’’ he stated.
The Angelina manifested their readiness to pay a price on anybody who shall act against the freedom of the members belonging to the party.
“They were exercising their political rights found in the constitution. I am saying that from today onwards, nobody will claim our political space because we are ready to pay the price. Anybody who tends to close any political space in the Country is advocating for the Country to go for war and we are not afraid” she asserted.
“When you tell someone not to express themselves, not to exercise their political rights and their civic rights, you are telling them to take other means getting and expressing their rights” she interpreted the intimidation made.
Angelina said they are going to take that political space and they are here to stay.
“It may time, struggle and sacrifice but it is here to stay but we are not relinquished with until the time comes and the power goes back to the people’’ she noted.
She stressed that citizens should be freed to exercise their political rights in preparation of the coming elections that shall determine the leaders they would choose.
The SPLM-IO senior party member underlined that the current government is the government of agreement which doesn’t arose out of votes thus; she called on the authority to release the apprehended members with immediate effect.
“We are currently in the government of agreement. The citizens of South Sudan have not yet voted. None of us can claim. Our aim as SPLM/A-IO according to the agreement was to create conducive environment for people to go for elections such that citizens elect their leaders based of political or independent will. We are going to work IO to bring the change that citizens need,’’ she reiterated.
Angelina reiterated that SPLM-IO was for civic and political space and remained committed for democratic issues and processes.
“SPLA-IO is a party for civic and political space. We are a talking party and it was our commitment for democratic processes. Anything discussed has to go through consultations until people reach consensus and agreement. This is how we are governing ourselves through internal democratic processes” she urged.
“We have many democratic tools in our IO constitution for governorship and some of these tools are enshrined in our national constitution,’’ she continued.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Daniel Justin, the national police spokesperson when contacted on the alleged arrest of the SPLM-IO members, told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper yesterday that he wasn’t aware of such incident and will check out.
“The police did not arrest anybody. We know that SPLM-IO on Saturday launched their State Secretariat and registration of their members in Central Equatoria State. We are going to investigate and let you know” Daniel Justin responded.